Spencer Davis dies at 81

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Spencer Davis Group in 1967 with Spencer Davis in the middle and Steve Winwood on the right side.

Spencer Davis, one of the key figures of the 1960s beat scene, has died at the age of 81.


The Welsh guitarist was the driving force behind The Spencer Davis Group, who scored transatlantic hits with Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me.

The band, which also featured a teenage Stevie Winwood, toured with The Who and The Rolling Stones in the 60s.

Davis died in hospital on Monday, while being treated for pneumonia, his agent told the BBC.

"He was a very good friend," said Bob Birk, who had worked with the musician for more than 30 years.

"He was a highly ethical, very talented, good-hearted, extremely intelligent, generous man. He will be missed."

Telegram from the Beatles

The son of a paratrooper, Davis was born in Swansea in 1939 and first started learning harmonica and the accordion at the age of six.

He moved to London to work for the civil service at the age of 16, but later relocated to Birmingham, where he taught German by day, and played in local clubs at night.

Inspired by blues and skiffle, he formed a band called The Saints with Bill Wyman, later a member of the Rolling Stones; and performed folk music with Christine Perfect - who, as Christine McVie, became a core member of Fleetwood Mac's classic line-up.

But it was with his eponymous rock group that he struck gold. Formed in 1963, The Spencer Davis Group featured Davis on guitar, a teenage Stevie Winwood on organ and vocals, his brother **** on bass and Peter York on drums.

Originally called The Rhythm & Blues Quartette, they changed their name in 1964 when **** pointed out that Davis was the only one who enjoyed doing interviews - the logic being that the rest of the band could slope off to the pub while he handled the press.

Their breakout hit, Keep On Running, was a cover of a song by West Indian performer Jackie Edwards.

When it topped the UK charts in 1966, it knocked the double A-sided Beatles single We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper from the top slot - and Davis received a telegram from the band congratulating him on the achievement.

"It's in a pile of papers somewhere," he told the BBC in 2009. "It said, 'Congratulations on reaching number one - The Beatles.'"

The follow-up was delayed when Davis bashed his head on a car windscreen after braking to avoid a dog - but Somebody Help Me, another Jackie Edwards cover, gave the quartet a second number one in March 1966.

The band went on to prove they had songwriting chops of their own, with hit singles like I'm A Man and Gimme Some Lovin', which was later covered by The Blues Brothers.

The Spencer Davis Group also recorded the theme song for the long-running children's TV show Magpie, under the pseudonym The Murgatroyd Band - a reference to the show's mascot, a fat magpie named Murgatroyd.

Full Story: https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-54619718



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Keep on Running 1965
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